Traditional communities have managed natural resources, especially fish resources, in a sustainable manner, learned often through long and difficult experience which has enabled them to survive over generations. There are numerous examples from around the world, as to how the communities have managed their resources, resolved conflicts, and shared benefits from the resources. These are normally undertaken by the traditional institutions or customary institutions such as the Sasi Lout, Panglima Lout, Kadakodi, Confederias, Padu, and similar such systems in other places. Small-scale fishing communities in developing countries have evolved community mechanisms to ensure that the resources, livelihood opportunities and revenues from the common property fishery are spread as widely as possible in the whole community.



Co-management, intended as a collaborative and participatory arrangement between governments and resource users to share the responsibility for resource management, is increasingly being put forward as a framework for the management of fisheries resources, partly also due to the perceived failure, or inability, of centralized fisheries management regimes.

Co-management arrangements may be more effective in a context where property rights are well defined, established and recognized, as they enable communities to control access, to sanction, and to exclude others. However, the co-management framework also has relevance in fisheries where property rights are not defined, undoubtedly a more common situation in fisheries across the world where governance structures are still poor. The advantage of co-management is that it enables governments and fishery gear groups to adopt and develop meaningful fisheries management measures that can minimize costs and that can also expect realization of management goals in a reasonable time frame. At least, it is one way to develop appropriate fisheries management measures that can engender ownership among all user groups even in the absence of property rights

Co-management of fisheries resources needs to ensure genuine involvement of gear groups, and consultation with their representatives. Particularly where traditional institutions for management and conflict resolution exist, it would be essential to recognize them and ensure their integration within co-management arrangements. Co-management efforts will also need to recognize the fact of large power differentials between various stakeholders in the co-management process, and, in the interests of equity, will need to take steps to prioritize the concerns and participation of those lower down in the power hierarchy—small-scale fishing communities, and, particularly, the women in these communities. Conversely, it would be imperative to work towards developing the capacity of communities to engage with co-management.

Co-management should not mean pushing all costs on to local communities, as is happening in certain situations. Some costs, such as, the costs of effective enforcement and keeping in check encroachments by the industrial/large-scale/mechanized fleet, should be borne by the State. The need is not for ‘less’ State, but for a more effective, accountable and responsive State.

This website provides you bibliographic information from different parts of the world, including articles from peer reviewed journals, case studies, reports, and other grey literature on community-based marine and coastal resource management, and on co-management aspects.